By Evan Webeck
LOS ANGELES — Still unable to swing a bat almost a week after dislocating his left pinky finger on a headfirst slide into second base, Giants outfielder Austin Slater was placed on the injured list before Monday night’s series opener against the Dodgers.
Slater is expected to miss the next 10 days and possibly beyond, manager Gabe Kapler said, after seeing the Giants’ hand specialist, Dr. Scott Hansen, who recommended a stint be placed on Slater’s injured finger.
Despite optimism that Slater could avoid the injured list, his finger never improved enough to allow him to swing a bat. Because he continued to pinch-run and play defense, including making a diving catch for the second-to-last out of Saturday’s win, Slater’s IL stay was only retroactive to Sunday.
Before Sunday’s game, Kapler indicated the IL was unlikely for Slater and that it was “ultimately going to be a pain tolerance thing.” However, he was not able “to turn the corner after a couple days,” Kapler said Monday.
“He’s able to do everything other than hit,” Kapler said. “It makes sense. Gripping a baseball bat and then swinging it really, really hard is not the easiest thing to do.”
Reliever Yunior Marte, a player Kapler singled out as a possible September call-up, was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento and took Slater’s spot on the roster. In 33⅔ innings over five previous stints with the big-league club this season, Marte hasn’t been able to translate his upper-90s fastball and plus-slider combination into success.
In 82⅓ innings at Triple-A the past two seasons, Marte has a 3.50 ERA and 10.6 K/9. In the majors, his ERA is 6.15 with an 8.0 K/9.
“There’s a couple of things that I think are keys to his success,” Kapler said. “Number one, working quicker consistently. … Efficiency is key for him. Attacking the strike zone is key for him. (Generating) balls in play quickly rather than long at bats.
“He throws really hard, he’s got a nasty sinker. Hitters who face him report that, and we hear that from people in Triple-A. We talk to our catchers about it. So we’re pretty confident that it’s an uncomfortable at-bat. The slider’s an effective weapon. He’s got a chance to play an important role for us down the stretch.”
Set to face three straight Dodgers left-handers — Andrew Heaney on Monday, Tyler Anderson on Tuesday and Clayton Kershaw on Wednesday — Kapler said it would be a “challenge” without Slater, who has been 33% better against lefties this season than the average major leaguer, according to wRC+.
Instead, it has been recently acquired Lewis Brinson leading off and manning center field the past two games, with rookie Bryce Johnson in right field.
Brinson, a former first-round pick and top prospect, was acquired for cash at the end of August and was one of the first two players the Giants added to their expanded roster at the start of September. Johnson, a speedy switch-hitter, is considered one of the top defensive outfielders in their system.
“A nice speed and power combination at the top of the lineup,” Kapler said of Brinson, who is 2-for-6 in his first three games with San Francisco. “It’s not the same profile as Austin Slater. Austin’s going to see pitches, he’s going to be very, very selective. Brinson’s a more aggressive hitter, but he also has some of the characteristics that we really like – the ability to drive the baseball to all parts of the field. There’s some damage in there.”
- Catcher Joey Bart, who passed his concussion tests over the weekend, is eligible to be activated from the injured list on Tuesday after a weeklong absence. Kapler said there is a “high likelihood” that Bart returns to the Giants lineup Tuesday.
- Tuesday also marks the first time the Giants will have to fill Alex Wood‘s spot in the rotation, after he was placed on the IL with a shoulder impingement. The addition of Marte on Monday was in part to provide additional pitching depth ahead of what is anticipated to be a bullpen game.
- Playing in near 100-degree temperatures in Los Angeles as a result of the heat wave enveloping California, the Giants cut their on-field batting practice short Monday. In the clubhouse, the doors remained shut to keep in the cool air. Camilo Doval sprawled out on his back in front of a high-powered fan. Alex Cobb, scheduled to start Wednesday afternoon’s matinee, joked that he might pass out on the field.
Source: Paradise Post